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Happy Birthday, Sen. Ted Stevens. You lose.

November 18, 2008 |  6:19 pm

(UPDATE: Wednesday afternoon Sen. Stevens formally conceded defeat to Mayor Begich.)

Alaska's long-serving Republican senator, Ted Stevens, turned 85 today.85-year-old Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens loses vote recount to Democrat opponent Mark Begich, Anchorage mayor

He also lost an election against his Democratic opponent, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

Which means Stevens does not get a seventh term.

And it means one more U.S. Senate seat pickup (a total of seven now) for Democrats under Majority Leader Harry Reid and for the impending legislative agenda of President-elect Barack Obama.

Democrats now hold 58 seats, closer to a solid 60-vote filibuster-proofing they sought, with two Republican seats still undecided in Georgia and Minnesota, plus two independents who usually vote Democratic.

The actual Alaska vote count was not quite complete. But Stevens trails Begich by 3,724 votes with only about 2,500 left to tally, the kind of impossible lead that can be surmounted only in a few machine-run counties of the United States.

Stevens was recently convicted on seven federal felony counts, all stemming from an unreported array of gifts received as a legislator, largely home improvements from an oil services company.

Stevens, a former U.S. attorney himself, intended...

...to fight the convictions, charging prosecutorial malfeasance.

But his GOP colleagues, who already lost seats in 2006 over corruption issues, were lining up to pinch him out of the Republican caucus if he had won.

This saves them the trouble and will realign the state's long-dominant Republican Party power structure involving, you betcha, reform Gov. Sarah Palin, who's been a successful thorn in the side of old-time GOP leaders there in recent years.

Her lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, came within a few hundred votes of upsetting incumbent Rep. Don Young in a primary challenge earlier this year.

Stevens was famous for delivering the goods for Alaska. "We ask for special considerations," he often said of the nation's largest state, "because no one else is that far away, no one else has the problems that we have or tAnchorage Mayor and Alaska's new Democratic senator elect Mark Begichhe potential that we have, and no one else deals with the federal government day in and day out the way we do."

Stevens was a former state legislator and two-term House member before being appointed to the Senate by Gov. Walter Hickel 40 years ago next month.

A UCLA graduate, he served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Eleven years ago, when Stevens succeeded Sen. Mark Hatfield as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he said:

"Sen. Hatfield had the patience of Job and the disposition of a saint. I don't. The watch has changed. I'm a mean, miserable S.O.B."

In 2006 alone, he was credited -- or blamed, depending on your view of pork -- for bringing some 9 billion federal dollars into his state.

Stevens rejected suggestions by party leaders that he resign after his conviction. Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain said Stevens had "broken his trust with the people."

Begich will be the first Senate Democrat from Alaska in more than 30 years. He is the son of Nick Begich, a Democratic congressman killed in a 1972 campaign plane crash.

The mayor's campaign theme was built around this:

Alaskans "tell me we need a senator with new ideas, a senator who's in touch and listens to everyone. They tell me they want a senator who works with all sides of the issues to find solutions and get results."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Credit: Office of Sen. Ted Stevens; Associated Press

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